Skip to main content

Full text of "The Gay Genius"

See other formats

jg6                           THE GAY GENIUS

"Recently I have begun to understand something about the secret
of prolonging life. Those who see me all say that my face looks
different now. When we meet again after another few years, you will
find me looking like an immortal. I have also been able to paint
inspired pictures of winter forests and bamboos in ink. My running
and cursive styles of calligraphy have especially improved, but my poetic?1
pen is not as facile as before—I don't know why. . , . I have received
your two letters discussing how we should face a misfortune of this
kind, and I am both enlightened by, and greatly pleased with, what
you say. But remember this. If I had fynown that I was going to get
into this trouble, I still would have done it without any hesitation*
During all his adversities, Tu Fu never for a moment forgot about his
country. That is why he was the incomparable one among all poets."
To his old friend Chang Chun, however, he had something different
to say. Chang Chun, now vice-premier, had written him a letter urging;
him to reform. To this friend he wrote a perfectly correct answer/
full of a contrite spirit. It was so correctly written that the letter could
very well have been shown to the Emperor. "You have always given
me very frank and straightforward advice, but I was stubborn and
did not listen to you. When I was in jail, I thought it was too late,
to repent and that I was certainly doomed. Luckily, His Majesty was
generous and granted me my life. If I don't reform now, I am indeed
less than a man. ... In the early years of my life I received many
kindnesses from the ruler, and if I had behaved dutifully and correctly
I wouldn't be today where I am. Now that I think of what I did, ]
realise that I was wrong. I acted like a madman or one who walks intg
the sea. When the spell of madness came, I was Unconscious of what
I did, and felt as if something was urging me along. When the spell
was over, I felt ashamed of myself. How can you ever doubt my deter-
mination to reform? . . .'" He went on to describe his life. "Huang-
chow is a poor district. If often rains and the sky is usually overcast.
However, fish and rice and fuel are cheap here, and it is a suitable place
for a poor fellow like me to live in. You know that I never tried ta
save money and spent all my salary as soon as I received it. Tseyu has
seven daughters and has piled up a mountain of debts. He is bringing
my family here and I don't know when he will arrive. I am Irv
alone at a monastery, dressed simply and eating vegetarian food
the monks. It's a simple kind of life, and I am worried about ^
J shall do when the whole family arrives. I understand that success
and failure are relative terms, but my salary is cut off and I am afraid
in a year's time we may have to starve. I cannot help being a little!
wearied. But as the proverb says: Where a current goes, it forms its
own canal' WEat's the use of troubling about it beforehand? I have
see® the magistrate only once since my arrival. The rest of the time